Proof God exists?

I often stop to chat with the Egyptian guy who runs the laundromat downstairs from our apartment in Greenpoint. Mustafa -- he prefers "Mac" -- never is in a sore mood, and is originally from Alexandria, where I've always wanted to visit. We always find something to talk about -- we're in much the same boat, middle-aged men scraping along to retain our dignity, respectful if not observant of our fathers' faiths, cynical about politics. Last week, we somehow got onto the subject of communism. "Tell me, Rafi, they don't have communism in this country? So when a business fails, everyone stand around, watch it die in this country, no yes? But give all that money to those banks, Rafi? What you call that, if it's not communism?"

We always seem to make one another laugh. This afternoon as we were standing talking outside the doorway to his store, a woman doing her wash called him in to help her with something. He came back out a few minutes later and we resumed talking about whatever -- if there is a Devil, how cheap and delicious fava bean sandwiches are in Alexandria, what a terrible place our end of Driggs Avenue is to run a business -- until a minute later, she called him back inside, and once more he left and returned. The third time she interrupted us, he cast me a pained look and said, "I gave her five dollars in change and she says I owe her a quarter. I counted again to show her." Then he glanced at her over his shoulder and said something in what sounded like Arabic -- startling me, because I was sure she was a Polish housewife.

Mac saw my confusion. "I have just said to her in Arabic, 'May God shorten your life.'" I buckled over laughing to think this tight-lipped middle-aged woman blithely ignorant of the deadly efficient coldness of his curse, the unkindest wish I have ever heard.

My enjoyment amused him. "Yes, it is a vicious expression. In Egypt you might say it as a joke, or you might say it seriously."

I wished I were a brilliant language philosopher like Wittgenstein or Chomsky, then I could make an argument that since the language can create such a role for an entity, the likelihood for the existence of that entity stands in direct proportion to the strength of flavor of statements it engenders. Such infinite hatred surely contains infinite life.